‘What has happened in acting and therefore what we see on our screens is intimately connected to what is happening in Britain. Acting, culture, identity, representation and politics are all inextricably entwined. The actors on our screens, the dramas that are commissioned, the way we view ourselves, the politicians we vote for, our ability to empathise with people from other parts of our culture, are all of a piece. Can it really be just a coincidence that the upper echelons of acting and government are dominated by Old Etonians?
The Liverpool-based screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote the story for the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games, tells me that he believes actors are like everyone else, just more visible. “The shortage of working-class actors is simply a mirror of what’s going on everywhere: a shortage of working-class academics, engineers and politicians. I’m much more concerned about the broader picture because it’s a beacon, an indicator, of a much deeper problem.”
Actors are simply the most visible, he says. “It’s an issue simply because we’ve noticed it but it’s going on everywhere, in every profession. It’s about access to education and being able to take a risk. That’s the nursery of innovation not just in the arts but in science, in business. What’s happening to the dramatic arts, should be a warning to people that this is happening everywhere. Actors are simply the end of the process. University or college or art school used to be where you’d go to meet your contemporaries and start something off. But they’ve been completely monetised. Universities are transaction service providers, students are service users, it’s not a creative space or an intellectual space any more, it’s a service where you get a piece of paper in exchange for your student loan. And it’s completely changed the nature of it.” - Guardian